Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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Practicum Woes, Part 2 (of 2, hopefully!)
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, I am no longer a placement orphan! I am instead the proud recipient of a practicum in a very good school in the Toronto District School Board. I've been in just about every corner of this high school's website and I'm so pleased and excited to start there in October (and hopefully get to know my host teacher a bit before then-- who also seems pretty cool, according to

Someone with a better memory than mine might realize what the catch is with this good news-- no, the TDSB was not one of my original choices. And no, it's not very convenient for me to get to. But it's not impossible, so I'm going to do it. The truth? My one-way commute is 2 and a half hours long, give or take.

"TWO AND A HALF HOURS?!" you are probably screaming at your computer right now, "IS SHE NUTS?!?!"

Well, probably. I've decided to spend October at least (and probably December and February/March, depending on how things go) living with my boyfriend in Guelph. Obviously I wouldn't live there if it was utterly inconvenient and insane to get in to the city. I'm in love, but I'm not stupid. Luckily, there are great inventions like public transportation, laptops, and iPods. And very very luckily, I have a fantastic boyfriend who's so happy to have me around that he's willing to make me dinner every night when I get home from school. (You hear that boy, now there are witnesses!)

I've worked out the perfect, practically minute-by-minute schedule to get me out the door/back in the door on weekdays, and I'm happy to report that because of my longer commute, I have 5 extra hours a week devoted to lesson planning, 5 extra hours a week for marking, and 5 extra hours per week to write blog posts and personal reflections! That definitely makes up for the whole putting-on-makeup-on-the-bus thing. Plus after all the commuting, I get to curl up and fall asleep in front of the TV with my boy and his adorable puppy. So yes, I may be nuts, but I'm a nut who gets to feel incredible love and have tons of fun every day. Undoubtedly worth it.

Now that I've described my whole (slightly sappy) practicum situation, I need to tell you about my experience speaking with Nadine in the practicum office.

Let me tell you, this woman is A.MAZ.ING. She works so hard for us and she really does care a lot about getting everyone into a placement that will be the right fit for them. It's a good thing she seems to enjoy tackling a challenge, because this is a very stressful time for the practicum office. Not only is she having to liaise around the clock, trying desperately to get teachers and schools to agree to host a teacher candidate, but she also has to deal with flak from unhappy students who decide to take their frustrations out on her.

Consider this: Recently, Nadine took her little one to a soccer tournament in Toronto and, while there, convinced a fellow parent (who happened to be a teacher, naturally) to take on a Queen's B.Ed student. That's some supreme dedication right there, not to mention masterful powers of persuasion.

Oh, and the student who was placed with the teacher Nadine recruited at the soccer tournament? Apparently not satisfied with the arrangement, he sent her a nasty email that called her and Queen's "useless." NOT the kind of thanks she was expecting, I'd imagine. I mean, I was mad at Queen's in general, but I always knew it wasn't the fault of those working on the front lines in the practicum office. And I would never be rude or ungrateful toward anyone who is obviously going above and beyond for me and my fellow students. It's pathetic. I hope the person in question withdrew from the program, because I really don't think I want to spend a year with him.

If you're still waiting for a placement and you're willing to be flexible with your school board preferences, try giving the practicum office a call at around 3:00ish. They're done lunch, they're not panicking at the end of the day, and hopefully they can do something for you. Of course this isn't a guarantee, but it's better to call and ask than to just sit by the computer waiting for an email. In my case, Nadine pulled up my file and a list of placements students had withdrawn from, and my teachables fit with a few host schools. She was able to pop me in the most convenient of the lot while we were still on the phone. Since I was summarizing environmental policy analysis at the time and was waaaaay overdue for a break, we had a lovely chat as she processed my paperwork.

So please, when you're looking to take a small break from your work projects or leisurely fun, go ahead and write the practicum office a little thank-you email. Or do what I plan to do and make them a pretty and heartfelt card. I'm sure it'll mean a lot to them to be recognized for all their efforts. And if you have practicum woes of your own, let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to be of assistance!

Sidenote-- we're planning a bit of site maintenance as we're still sort of playing around with the format of Class Dismissed. Soon you'll be able to find posts by topic as well as by date. Let us know if you have any other suggestions!

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Courtney posted at 8:18 PM - Comments (1)


Hey Courtney. I believe that people really should think before they start criticizing someone. The email we received said that 100 students did not get a placement (I'm glad that you managed to find one) which means that those who did receive a placement right away should be greatful. When I first found out my practicum placement I was concerned (it's in Scarborough which is really out of the way and I have no clue where I will stay) but I was happy to know that I got a placement. I also believe that they pay particular attention to their students when choosing where to send them (for example, my associate teacher got her bachelor of music at the same university as myself). Needless to say, I am super excited to see what I get to learn in my placement and while it is in an inconvenient location I am sure I will find a way to sort things out and make the best out of the situation. I'm sure someone will be more than willing to take the placement given to that ungrateful student.

By Blogger Ashley, at July 22, 2009 at 11:58 PM  

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